Established in 2010

About MEPIELAN eBulletin

MEPIELAN E-Bulletin is a digital academic and practitioner newsletter of the MEPIELAN Centre, launched in 2010.  It features insight articles, reflective opinions, specially selected documents and cases, book reviews as well as news on thematic topics of direct interest of MEPIELAN Centre and on the activities and role of MEPIELAN Centre. Its content bridges theory and practice perspectives of relational international law, international environmental law and participatory governance , and international negotiating process, thus serving the primary goal of Centre: to develop an integrated, inter-disciplinary, relational, context-related and sustainably effective governance approach creating, protecting and advancing international common interest for the present and future generations. Providing a knowledge- and information-sharing platform and a scholarly forum, the Bulletin promotes innovative ideas and enlightened critical views, contributing to a broader scholarly debate on important issues of international common interest. The audience of the Bulletin includes academics, practitioners, researchers, university students, international lawyers, officials and personnel of international organizations and institutional arrangements, heads and personnel of national authorities at all levels (national, regional and local), and members of the civil society at large.

International Environmental Negotiation Process

Climate Change

UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 28) – A Signal for the End of the Fossil Fuel Era?

The 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), convened in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 30 November to 13 December 2023, was the largest United Nations conference on climate change to date. Some 85,000 participants, including more than 150 heads of state and government, civil society, civil society, the private sector, indigenous peoples, youth and international organizations, gathered to continue to explore holistic and contextually relevant responses to the adverse impacts of climate change. As 2023 will be the warmest year on record, the sense of urgency for ambitious climate action in the context of international climate negotiations has never been more critical.

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Environmental Governance Regimes

COP23 of Barcelona Convention Adopts Strong Commitments for a Green Transition in the Mediterranean Region

The 23rd Meeting of Contracting Parties to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean – the Barcelona Convention (Conference of Parties – COP 23) took place from 4 to 8 December 2023 in Portoroz Slovenia. in COP23  was attended by accredited representatives of the Contracting Parties (21 coastal Mediterranean countries and the European Union) and Observers, as well as representatives of accredited MAP Partners and Intergovernmental Organizations, with the ultimate aim of enhancing the protection of the marine and coastal environment of the Mediterranean region in the context of sustainable development.

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International Environmental Negotiation Process

The INC3 Advances the Zero Draft of the Global Plastic Treaty: A Significant Step forward in the Negotiating Process

The third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment (INC-3) took place from 13 to 19 November 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya. The INC3 which followed the INC2 convened in Paris, France brought together more than 1.900 delegates representing 161 Members including the European Union and over 318 observer organizations including UN entities, intergovernmental organizations, and non-governmental organizations. The ultimate aim of the INC was to advance the development of the plastic treaty, using the Zero Draft document* issued after the INC 2, as a basis for its discussions. The INC3 was preceded by a preparatory meeting convened on 11 November 2023 which addressed the Synthesis Report.

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Environmental Governance Regimes

Global Landmark Framework on Chemicals Adopted to Achieve Sustainable Chemicals Management

Convened from 25 to 29 September 2023 in Bonn, the fifth International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5), organised by UNEP, formally adopted a new global framework for the sound management of chemicals and waste, the “Global Framework on Chemicals – For a planet free of harm from chemicals and waste.” Throughout the Conference, a unique but intense international negotiation process took place where delegates from States, intergovernmental organisations, industry, NGOs, indigenous people, youth, and academia equally joined forces to reach a positive outcome. Indeed, until the very last minute of the negotiations, the draft’s provisions on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, technology transfer “on mutually agreed terms,” and the polluter pays principle remained bracketed demonstrating the intricate function of international environmental negotiations.

Read the full text

Environmental Governance Regimes

The Mediterranean Commission for Sustainable Development Holds its 20th Meeting in Marseille: The Region’s Transition Towards Sustainability

The 20th meeting of the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development (MCSD) took place in Marseille (France) from 14 to 16 June 2023. The MCSD aims to assist the Contracting Parties in their efforts to integrate environmental issues in their socioeconomic programmes and to promote sustainable development policies in the Mediterranean region. Being unique in its composition, the Commission brings together government representatives, local authorities, socio-economic actors, non-governmental organizations, intergovernmental organizations, the scientific community and parliamentarians. All MCSD members participate in its meetings on an equal footing. Notably, the MEPIELAN Centre has been elected as Non-Contracting Party of the MCSD (2016-2019) and Member of its Steering Committee (2019-2021).

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Environmental Governance Regimes

United Nations Delegates Reach Historic High Seas Agreement

After a decade and a half of negotiations, the UN member states reached agreement on the establishment of the landmark treaty to conserve and sustainably use the marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ treaty) in the context of the resumed fifth session of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC 5-2).* The IGC 5-2 took place from 20 February to 4 March 2023 at UN Headquarters in New York with the mandate to deal with the numerous issues that had been left pending at the conclusion of IGC-5 in August 2022.

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Articles

Articles

Spatial/ Regional Planning: a Territorial Dimension of Human Rights and Democracy

The Council of Europe actively promotes sustainable development in line with Recommendation Rec (2002) 1 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the Guiding Principles for Sustainable Spatial Development of the European Continent, which were adopted initially by the Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional/Spatial Planning (CEMAT).  The Action Plan adopted by the Heads of State and Government at the Third Council of Europe Summit in Warsaw, on 17 May 2005, includes a section on “Promoting sustainable development” which provides that: “We are committed to improving the quality of life for citizens.  The Council of Europe shall therefore, on the basis of the existing instruments, further develop and support integrated policies in the fields of environment, landscape, spatial planning and prevention and management of natural disasters, in a sustainable development perspective”.

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Articles

The North-Western Mediterranean Particularly Sensitive Sea Area

By Resolution MEPC.380(80) of 7 July 2023, the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) designated the North-Western Mediterranean Sea as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA). It is the sixteenth PSSA so far established and the second in the Mediterranean Sea.

PSSAs are areas that need special protection through action by IMO because of their significance for recognized ecological, socio-economic or scientific reasons and which may be vulnerable to damage by international maritime activities. They can be established according to a set of Revised guidelines for the identification of PSSAs, adopted in 2005 by the IMO Assembly under Resolution A.982(24), as amended in 2015 by Resolution MEPC.267(68).

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Articles

Liability for Injurious Consequences Arising Out of Offshore Exploration and Exploitation

The continuous expansion of the offshore industry due to the increasing energy demands may have serious detrimental impacts on the marine environment, which in the smaller regional seas could be hardly reparable. Suffice to mention the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest marine oil spill to date.

Prevention activities are therefore very important, although the risk of pollution, due to the extremely ultrahazardous  nature of offshore drilling, cannot be completely eliminated This main characteristic of offshore activities makes liability for their injurious consequences almost as much important as prevention measures, as far as the victims are concerned.

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Articles

Internationalizing Participatory Democracy: Implementing the Principles of the Aarhus Convention in International Decision-making

Considering international law and the non-linear phases of its long historical development, there is a compelling theoretical-practical need – but one that is not confessed by the dominant positivist thinking that permeates it: to  delve into, and evaluate the normative quality of the horizontality of international order. In other words, to delve into the process of the horizontal normativity of international law in its unceasing pursuit and polycentric flowing construction of the international common interest on which international society is based and evolves. This is a characteristic contemporary neglect that goes hand in hand with the intolerable limitations imposed by the positivist methodology of international law that imbues the religious-like "fundamental belief" of the modern era of “non-thoughtful international lawyers” that international law exists and develops as an analogy of private law, that treaties are concluded as discrete transactions and function like private law contracts.

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Articles

Public Participation in China’s Green Leap Forward: Paradoxes and Changing Mode in the Era of Political Control and Environmental Technocracy

In November 2022, China’s State Council announced a spatial layout plan for national parks. It selected 49 candidate areas for building national parks, including the first five that had all been recently developed. After these 49 planned parks are established, China will have the largest national park system in the world, covering close to 10% of the country’s land area and protecting 80% of its key wildlife species and their habitats. This plan, involving 700 existing protected areas and 10 world heritage sites across 28 provinces, is just one component, and not even the largest, of a series of mega initiatives that China has been rapidly implementing to enhance biodiversity conservation in recent years.

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Articles

The BBNJ Agreement comes ashore: a preliminary analysis

Last March 4, 2023, Rena Lee, President of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Conference on an Agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (the BBNJ Agreement), announced with emotion and symbolic words the happy outcome of the process: “the ship has reached the shore”. After 20 years of work, including 6 years of formal negotiations and 36 uninterrupted hours of final consultations behind closed doors, all outstanding issues had been overcome and the President was able to present a text reflecting the end of the negotiation. The process was successfully completed, pending final editorial refining of the text, translation into the six official languages of the United Nations, and formal adoption of the Agreement, which is scheduled for June 2023.

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Opinions

Opinions

Energy Communities: A route of Public Participation towards Energy Democratisation

Energy communities are considered as vehicles for citizens to collectively engage in the generation, consumption, storage, trading, and distribution of energy, marking a shift towards a decentralized, sustainable, and inclusive energy framework. EU has been at the forefront of championing the energy community initiative, while citizen engagement in energy communities is an essential tool towards energy transition. Across the European Union (EU), more than 9,000 energy communities are actively addressing energy poverty. “Renewable Energy Communities” (RECs) and “Citizen Energy Communities” (CECs) are concepts already defined in EU legislation, granting these groups a recognized presence in the energy sector focused on local engagement and community benefit over profit. In addition, the 2019 European Green Deal emphasized that citizens are and should remain a driving force of the transition to sustainability. Legislative strides tied to the “Fit for 55” initiative and the “RePowerEU” plan show the EU's drive to foster community-scale, participatory renewable energy systems.

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Opinions

The Governance of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in Greece: An overall view

The overall responsibility for monitoring and coordinating, at the highest political level, the national implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs in Greece lies with the Presidency of the Government (PoG) established by the “Executive State” law in August 2019 for the purpose of coordinating the planning and monitoring the implementation of the whole Government programme and work, ensuring the  promotion of a whole-of-government approach and reinforcing the imperative political ownership of public policies.

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Opinions

Allard v. Barbados: Environmental Issues under the Guise of International Investment Disputes

In September 2009, a Canadian investor, Peter Allard, instituted proceedings before the Permanent Court of Arbitration against Barbados, for breaches of the Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of Barbados for the Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments, signed on 29 May 1996 (Canada-Barbados BIT). In particular, the investor claimed that his US$35 million investment, an eco-tourism project in Barbados (Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary) underwent indirect expropriation, due to Barbados's failure to fulfill its environmental obligations, deriving from both domestic legislation as well as international environmental law. In 27 June 2016, the Tribunal issued the much-anticipated award, ultimately rejecting the claim of the investor. Even though, prima facie, this appears to be yet another investment dispute (albeit with environmental components), a closer look to the facts of the case provides an interesting insight.

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Opinions

The CBD: An “Empty Shell” Convention?

Arguably, reversing the accelerating rates of biodiversity loss constitutes one of the world's largest environmental challenges. The 1992 Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), aiming precisely at addressing this problem, constitutes the first attempt to provide a comprehensive and inclusive framework for the conservation of biodiversity, thus trying to remedy the piecemeal and ad hoc way in which international rules of flora and fauna protection had been developed in non-binding instruments (principle 4 of the Stockholm Declaration, the 1982 World Charter for Nature, Chapter 15 of Agenda 21), as well as in a series of species or sites specific treaties .

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Opinions

World Heritage Convention Turned 40: Achievements and Prospects for the Future.

On the 40th anniversary of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (WHC), marked in 2012, almost all States (190) are parties to it, along with two non-state entities, the Holy See and Palestine respectively. WHC was the first international instrument that articulated natural and cultural heritage protection in the same context, under the pressure of the UN Conference on the Human Environment (1972), which proclaimed the need for a common outlook and for common principles to inspire and guide the peoples of the world in the preservation and enhancement of the human environment that extends over both aspects of man's environment, the natural and the man-made .

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Opinions

Unfolding Local Authorities Role and Contribution to the Rio+20 Process

The UN General Assembly pursuant to its Resolution 64/236 (24 December 2009) organized in June 2012 the United Nation Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20) which was focused on two themes: (i) a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and, (ii) institutional framework for sustainable development (IFSD). In an effort to highlight the importance of stakeholders for the promotion of sustainable development, the UNGA encouraged the active participation of all nine Major Groups (MGs), as defined by Agenda 21, at all stages of Rio+20 preparatory process.

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Documents & Cases

Documents & Cases

International Court of Justice to Render Historic Opinion on Climate Change Amid Climate Emergency

In the wake of a landmark United Nations General Assembly Resolution, the International Court of Justice has initiated the process of delivering an advisory opinion on the obligations of states under international law to address the multifaceted impacts of climate change. Amid a heated debate on the environmental obligations of states, the UNGA Resolution is the third recent request for a legal opinion before international judicial bodies, albeit the first to be submitted to the Court.

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Documents & Cases

The UN General Assembly Resolution 76/300 “on “The Human Right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment”: Marking the Road for a New Age of Sustainability Governance

On 28 July 2022, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the landmark Resolution 76/300 “: “The Human Right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment”. Resolution 76/300 was adopted with overwhelming support: 161 votes in favour, zero against, and 8 abstentions (Belarus, Cambodia, China, Ethiopia, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Syria).

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Documents & Cases

Mediterranean basin facing irreversible environmental damage, warns new UNEP report

Rising inequality, growing impact of climate change, biodiversity loss, unrelenting pressure on natural resources could lead to irreversible environmental damage in the Mediterranean basin, according to a new report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). Launched on the 21st of October on the sidelines of the EU Green Week, the State of the Environment and Development in the Mediterranean finds that the future of the Mediterranean is on the line. Unless urgent and resolute action is taken to halt current trends, environmental degradation could have serious and lasting consequences for human health and livelihoods in the region.

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Documents & Cases

The United Nations General Assembly Adopts the First-ever Resolution on Illicit Trafficking in Wildlife

After three years of intense diplomatic efforts, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) unanimously adopted the Resolution 69/314, entitled ‘Tackling the Illicit Trafficking in Wildlife’ on 30 July 2015. This Resolution marks the first time that the 193 UN Member States have agreed to increase their joint effort to curb the escalating poaching and illegal trade in protected species of wild fauna and flora.

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Documents & Cases

Report of the Open Working Group on SDGs: An Innovative Process with a Significant Input to the Post-2015 Agenda

After almost one and a half year of intense deliberations, the proposal of the Open Working Group on sustainable development goals was submitted in August 2014 for consideration and appropriate action by the UN General Assembly. A short historical background on the establishment of the Open Working Group and a brief description of its outcome is provided below.

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Documents & Cases

IUCN WCEL Oceans Coasts and Coral Reefs Specialist Group written statement submitted to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLSO) for Case no. 21, Request for an Advisory Opinion submitted by the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) was established in 1948 and is the largest conservation organization in the world. The IUCN has some 1,200 Members from 160 countries that include 800 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), close to 100 international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) and many government agencies. In addition, there are 11,000 volunteer scientists and other experts from more than 160 countries.

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Books

Books

Rule of Law for Nature – New Dimensions and Ideas in Environmental Law

'Human laws must be reformulated to keep human activities in harmony with the unchanging and universal laws of nature.' This 1987 statement by the World Commission on Environment and Development has never been more relevant and urgent than it is today. Despite the many legal responses to various environmental problems, more greenhouse gases than ever before are being released into the atmosphere, biological diversity is rapidly declining and fish stocks in the oceans are dwindling. This book challenges the doctrinal construction of environmental law and presents an innovative legal approach to ecological sustainability: a rule of law for nature which guides and transcends ordinary written laws and extends fundamental principles of respect, integrity and legal security to the non-human world.

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Thematic News

Climate Change

UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 28) – A Signal for the End of the Fossil Fuel Era?

The 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), convened in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 30 November to 13 December 2023, was the largest United Nations conference on climate change to date. Some 85,000 participants, including more than 150 heads of state and government, civil society, civil society, the private sector, indigenous peoples, youth and international organizations, gathered to continue to explore holistic and contextually relevant responses to the adverse impacts of climate change. As 2023 will be the warmest year on record, the sense of urgency for ambitious climate action in the context of international climate negotiations has never been more critical.

Read the full text

Environmental Governance Regimes

COP23 of Barcelona Convention Adopts Strong Commitments for a Green Transition in the Mediterranean Region

The 23rd Meeting of Contracting Parties to the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean – the Barcelona Convention (Conference of Parties – COP 23) took place from 4 to 8 December 2023 in Portoroz Slovenia. in COP23  was attended by accredited representatives of the Contracting Parties (21 coastal Mediterranean countries and the European Union) and Observers, as well as representatives of accredited MAP Partners and Intergovernmental Organizations, with the ultimate aim of enhancing the protection of the marine and coastal environment of the Mediterranean region in the context of sustainable development.

Read the full text

International Environmental Negotiation Process

The INC3 Advances the Zero Draft of the Global Plastic Treaty: A Significant Step forward in the Negotiating Process

The third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment (INC-3) took place from 13 to 19 November 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya. The INC3 which followed the INC2 convened in Paris, France brought together more than 1.900 delegates representing 161 Members including the European Union and over 318 observer organizations including UN entities, intergovernmental organizations, and non-governmental organizations. The ultimate aim of the INC was to advance the development of the plastic treaty, using the Zero Draft document* issued after the INC 2, as a basis for its discussions. The INC3 was preceded by a preparatory meeting convened on 11 November 2023 which addressed the Synthesis Report.

Read the full text

Environmental Governance Regimes

Global Landmark Framework on Chemicals Adopted to Achieve Sustainable Chemicals Management

Convened from 25 to 29 September 2023 in Bonn, the fifth International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5), organised by UNEP, formally adopted a new global framework for the sound management of chemicals and waste, the “Global Framework on Chemicals – For a planet free of harm from chemicals and waste.” Throughout the Conference, a unique but intense international negotiation process took place where delegates from States, intergovernmental organisations, industry, NGOs, indigenous people, youth, and academia equally joined forces to reach a positive outcome. Indeed, until the very last minute of the negotiations, the draft’s provisions on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, technology transfer “on mutually agreed terms,” and the polluter pays principle remained bracketed demonstrating the intricate function of international environmental negotiations.

Read the full text

Environmental Governance Regimes

The Mediterranean Commission for Sustainable Development Holds its 20th Meeting in Marseille: The Region’s Transition Towards Sustainability

The 20th meeting of the Mediterranean Commission on Sustainable Development (MCSD) took place in Marseille (France) from 14 to 16 June 2023. The MCSD aims to assist the Contracting Parties in their efforts to integrate environmental issues in their socioeconomic programmes and to promote sustainable development policies in the Mediterranean region. Being unique in its composition, the Commission brings together government representatives, local authorities, socio-economic actors, non-governmental organizations, intergovernmental organizations, the scientific community and parliamentarians. All MCSD members participate in its meetings on an equal footing. Notably, the MEPIELAN Centre has been elected as Non-Contracting Party of the MCSD (2016-2019) and Member of its Steering Committee (2019-2021).

Read the full text

Environmental Governance Regimes

United Nations Delegates Reach Historic High Seas Agreement

After a decade and a half of negotiations, the UN member states reached agreement on the establishment of the landmark treaty to conserve and sustainably use the marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ treaty) in the context of the resumed fifth session of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC 5-2).* The IGC 5-2 took place from 20 February to 4 March 2023 at UN Headquarters in New York with the mandate to deal with the numerous issues that had been left pending at the conclusion of IGC-5 in August 2022.

Read the full text

Member News

Obituaries

Obituaries

In Memoriam: Professor Meinhard Doelle (1964 – 2022)

It is with great sadness that I report that Professor Meinhard Doelle, a distinguished scholar of international environmental law, suddenly passed away on September 17, 2022, at the age of 58.

Meinhard Doelle was a prominent Academic Fellow of MEPIELAN Centre and a long-time collaborator and unfailing contributor to MEPIELAN E-Bulletin, a friend and a thoughtful environmental law scholar.

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